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child-health | safety-tips

Sleep—Every Parent’s Dream – S1 E2

For both moms and babies, sleep is important! But putting your newborn to sleep can be challenging for new and experienced parents alike.

On this episode, pro mom and host Jessica Stewart-Gonzalez covers tips and tricks for implementing the ABCs of safe sleep with Yomaira Diaz Castillo, Injury Prevention Manager at the Arizona Department of Health.

Learn how you and your baby can comfortably and safely fit in some well needed Z’s.

Podcast Resources:
Arizona’s Birth to Five Helpline
Safe Kids Sleep Safety Tips
Cribs for Kids Safe Sleep Education
Podcast Credits:

host Host: Jessica Stewart-Gonzalez is the Program Director for the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program at the Arizona Department of Health Services.

host Guest: Yomaira Diaz Castillo is the Injury Prevention Manager at the Arizona Department of Health.


[00:00:00] Jessica Stewart Gonzalez: [00:00:00] Welcome to The Parenting Brief. I’m Jessica Stewart Gonzalez, an Arizona working mom and program director for the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program at the Arizona Department of Health Services.

On each episode of The Parenting Brief, we’ll bring you quick tips from the experts. We’ll talk about eating, pooping, sleeping, growing, and learning, and support you in being the best parent you can be.

[00:00:30] Thank you so much for joining us for the second episode of The Parenting Brief. Last time, we talked about how we get started with breastfeeding, what to expect as you start the journey, and where to get help, because it’s just hard. You can go back and listen to that show anytime you need to.

Today, we’re going to talk about something that most new parents find just as [00:01:00] stressful, if not more stressful at times than feeding your new little baby, and that’s sleeping. We’re going to talk about the realities and challenges with newborn sleep, or lack of sleep, and give you some information and tips to help you and baby make this big adjustment from sleeping inside the coziness of you, to sleeping out in this great big world.

Let’s start by making sure that our listeners know that the safest sleep habits include the ABCs. The baby should be sleeping alone on their back, and in [00:01:30] a crib on a firm mattress. No blankets, no siblings, no crib bumpers, just the sweet little baby safe and sound. Now, let’s talk about how incredibly difficult achieving the ABCs can actually be and tips to help out very tired, very overwhelmed, new parents.

Joining us is Yomi Castillo. She is the Injury Prevention Manager at the Arizona Department of Health Services and is one of the [00:02:00] most knowledgeable people I know on the subject of safe sleep. Many parents who know, understand, and really want to implement safe sleep practices are often faced with a baby that was not given the safe sleep manual or any sleeping manual.

What can you tell parents to help them find some calm and comfort in this process?

Yomaira Diaz Castillo: [00:02:19] So you have to remember that babies are in utero for nine months and they’re used to coming up in that fetal position. And so, they come out curled up and they [00:02:30] don’t always know when they come out, that they have to lay on their backs.

It’s something that they learn. It’s not something that they come out with as Jessica said in a manual. So, for them achieving 10 to 15 minutes on their back, it’s actually normal. But people think, “Oh my God, it’s not working. What am I doing wrong?” And so, it’s going to take time for the families and for baby to learn that that is what normal is going to be for them.

So just to give you comfort, you’re not doing anything wrong, the baby isn’t doing anything wrong, it’s [00:03:00] something that they learn. Another thing that will be helpful is if you use a sleep sack, that’s something that you can place baby in, so that it’s part of their comfort and they can start learning how to sleep on their backs.

There are things that you can do and publications everywhere that you can find. So, if baby uses a pacifier, start off with the pacifier, because that helps ease them into sleep. Fan and air circulation, I know this is really weird, but it helps with the circulation of the room and also [00:03:30] appropriate temperatures and being appropriately dressed and breastfeeding. Those are really good preventative measures that you can do.

Jessica Stewart Gonzalez: [00:03:38] How long does it really take to learn and to be comfortable sleeping on their back? At what point is it, you know, mom being glad that baby slept for 15 minutes and not thinking something is wrong, to being worried that we’re just now training a baby to sleep for 15 minutes at a time?

Yomaira Diaz Castillo: [00:03:56] So every child is different. There’s not one size fits [00:04:00] all. So, some babies will probably, you know, like I said, 10, 15 minutes, and then that should start extending. It could be an hour; it can be 45 minutes. It can be an hour and a half, two hours. And you’re going to get to know the pattern of your baby.

You’re going to get to know when they’re hungry. You’re going to get to know exactly what it is that they’re going to need. So, it’s really hard to say because everyone is different. As a parent, you’re just going to start to gauge that because you’re gonna know, right? [00:04:30] You’re gonna start to figure out and they’re going to start to learn. So, it’s just gonna take some time.

Jessica Stewart Gonzalez: [00:04:36] That is really helpful. I think oftentimes we think that immediately babies should know what to do and how to do it. And we get really frustrated when it’s only a few minutes at a time. I know I did.

Yomaira Diaz Castillo: [00:04:46] Me too, and rule of thumb is, and I was told this as a new mom, you nap when they nap. You know, I know we all have things to do and we’re all really busy, and I know it’s going to be impossible and sometimes difficult and hard. [00:05:00] But if that 10, 15 minutes is what you got, then you take advantage of it and maybe you nap when they nap.

Jessica Stewart Gonzalez: [00:05:06] No, that’s great advice. Hard to do, but great advice. I think we just have to learn to let go of those other things that we think we’re going to get done while they’re sleeping.

I think that there are many things that parents do secretly in fear of being mommy shamed or worry about how others will perceive them. It also means that they aren’t asking for help. I think that co-sleeping is one of these topics. [00:05:30] We all know that it isn’t recommended, but sometimes we fill out a total loss as to what else to do. Are there any ways to safely co-sleep?

Yomaira Diaz Castillo: [00:05:38] So let’s remember co-sleeping can mean two things. So, bed sharing is one and room sharing is another. So, it’s recommended that babies room share with their parents until at least until the age of one year. Room sharing is having the baby in the same room or space but in their own crib or bassinet close to your bed.

[00:06:00] Bed sharing is never advised, and it actually increases the risk of suffocation and of sudden unexpected infant death. Remember babies aren’t able to save themselves. They can’t push off their blankets, pillows, or push themselves away from mom or dad, brother or sister, or anyone else that’s sleeping in their environment. So, they can’t lift their head to change direction if they can’t breathe.

Additionally, so risks are increased when parents go to bed after drinking or if they have sleep [00:06:30] conditions such as sleep apnea, or if they’re under some kind of other influence. Also remember that mom and dad who smokes, that also increases the risk. But even if those things aren’t taking place, sleep deprivation is probably one of the biggest factors.

Jessica Stewart Gonzalez: [00:06:46] A lot of the time we think of safe sleep practices when going to bed, but babies sleep a lot, even if it doesn’t feel that way. We hold them while we are in a rocking chair or watching TV on the couch, breastfeeding baby in bed. And even [00:07:00] hoping at times that baby falls asleep in their swing or their car seat. What strategies can new parents put in place to increase safe sleep habits?

Yomaira Diaz Castillo: [00:07:08] So the big thing for this one is for new parents or even tired parents; you need to have a safe sleep plan. Even if you’re by yourself, or if you have someone in the home with you, you know, maybe you tell them, “Hey, if I fall asleep, wake me up.” Because it can happen.

And then you want to move the baby to their crib or bassinet or pack and play, whatever you’re using after they [00:07:30] fall asleep so you don’t fall asleep with them. You know, another thing you can do is set an alarm on your phone. Let’s admit it. Let’s just say it, we all have our phones with us at all times.

It’s just what we do. People take it to the restroom, so let’s just be honest. And so maybe you set it softly so that when it does go off, you don’t wake up the baby and that will help remind you to get up and put the baby to their appropriate sleeping place. Again, crib, bassinet, pack and play, whatever it is that you have, again, but not in your adult bed.

You [00:08:00] don’t want to bed share with baby. And you definitely never want to let a baby fall asleep in a swing or even in a car seat. You just don’t want to do that.

Jessica Stewart Gonzalez: [00:08:09] So if parents are struggling with implementing safe sleep habits or just worried about their baby’s sleep in general, is there anywhere to go to get help advice and support, other than Dr. Google?

Yomaira Diaz Castillo: [00:08:22] We are quick to Google everything right now. So, here’s what I recommend. We always encourage people to talk with your pediatrician if there’s ever [00:08:30] any concerns, but we’re also really lucky to have the Arizona Birth to Five Helpline. And they can answer any questions about the baby’s development, including questions about sleep.

Anyone can call and it’s free. You can call or you can text the Birth to Five Helpline at any time. And the number for that is 877-705-KIDS. Or it’s (877) [00:09:00] 705-5437. And it’s a great resource.

Jessica Stewart Gonzalez: [00:09:03] That’s so great to have that available for parents. Well, thank you so much, Yomi, for all of the great advice today.

Yomaira Diaz Castillo: [00:09:10] Thank you.

Jessica Stewart Gonzalez: [00:09:19] Thank you for joining us for today’s episode of The Parenting Brief. If you need more sleep advice for your child, go ahead and reach out to the Birth to Five Helpline at [00:09:30] 877-705-KIDS. That’s (877) 705-5437. It’s free and available to all Arizona parents.

Don’t miss our next episode by subscribing for free to The Parenting Brief on your favorite podcast app, like Apple Podcasts or Spotify. And pass the episode along to the moms or expecting moms in your life. A little parenting advice can go a long way.

Until next time, this is Jessica. You’ve got this, mom. [00:10:00]

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